At the outset of the summer it didn’t seem like we were primed for hyped summer music releases. There were a few, namely Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, but that was pretty much it.
However, thanks to a cryptic tweet on Kanye West’s Twitter page and an over 3 minute long commercial from Jay-Z, we learned that two hip-hop heavyweights would be releasing new albums. Suddenly, the summer became more exciting.
In the new music industry however, you don’t simply release an album, you need to LAUNCH an album. For the past couple weeks I’ve done something that I haven’t done in more than five years, which is actually buy an album. I didn’t download the albums from iTunes, I didn’t make a playlist from Spotify. Nope. I actually went into Best Buy and purchased Yeezus for the reasonable price of $9.99 and Magna Carta Holy Grail for the somewhat more expensive $14.99.
Why did I buy these albums, when I could download them for free off a site, or stream them from Spotfy? Find out below.
1. I actually wanted to hear them music.
When I used to listen to music in college, I used to open up my Apple laptop and listen to the album through the speakers. I had a roommate who used to get angry about this practice. He would always say, “why don’t you listen to music on actual speaker or with headphones?” I thought the way I did it was much easier but now I understand where he was coming from.
Sure you can hear Yeezus or Magna Carta Holy Grail streaming on Spotify while at work, but in my case you can only listen with one ear bud in. Yeezus has tremendous production as does Magna Carta Holy Grail. The actual music just plain sounds really good. I bought the albums so I can pop them in my CD players while I’m driving, pump the volume up and put the windows down.
When listening to Yeezus there is much going on that you almost need to be completely enveloped the musicality. Kanye is like a composer introducing different sounds and instruments when he so pleases.
Streaming sites and the Internet has made accessing music easier, but how about actually listening to it? Sometimes it’s just nice, not to have SO many options at your fingertips and instead have to listen to 10-13 songs in sequence.
2. I’m not just buying the music.
As I’ve mentioned before you don’t simply release music nowadays you launch albums. When I bought Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail, I wasn’t only buying the music, I was purchasing the “experience” the artists provided me prior to the album’s release.
In the case of Yeezus, I was purchasing the album because West projected “New Slaves” on city buildings around the world, the mysteries surrounding the actual album art of the album, the fact that West gave an all encompassing interview to The New York Times last month. I was paying for the opportunity to jokes around with friends with what West would be up to next. Not to mention the fact I got to see West debut a lot of new material during the Governor’s Ball Music Festival.
For Magna Carta Holy Grail, I was purchasing my excitement for initially viewing the Magna Carta Holy Grail commercial during the NBA Finals. Similar to Yeezus, I appreciated that Magna Carta Holy Grail was a mystery. There were no snippets, singles, released prior to the albums released. There were just lyrics you could download and read, imagining your own music.
I appreciated that instead of exploring traditional media venues, these artists tried something different, working out for West. The success of Jay-Z’s has yet to be seen, even though the albums already gone platinum.
3. Music is way to diluted, I like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s release style.
I feel like Lil Wayne really screwed everything up. There was a time before Weezy, when artists didn’t feel the need to release music every day. But, then Lil Wayne started releasing a mix tape a month and publishing music weekly. This was fun for a while as it gave us something new to talk about every day, but I feel like it diluted the creative output we get from artists.
This was fun for a while as it gave us something new to talk about every day, but I feel like it diluted the creative output we get from artists.
This is especially true with hip-hop artists. It takes much less effort to release hip-hop music. It requires very limited instrumentation and worse comes to worse, the can remix someone else’s song. This is was especially true with “blog rappers” like Wale, Kid Cudi and B.o.B.. As I mentioned before a lot of their actual “good” music was released on mix tapes.
Is it coincidence that Jay-Z and Kanye West rarely release new music? I don’t think so. I think they realize that the public would rather wait for polished, well produced music rather them spitting a quick verse while in Wichita, Kansas for the night.
4. You need to support artists you admire and respect.
This might seem obvious, but in our enveloping music environment we “like” so many more artists than we did before. You may like Lil Wayne and Wale, but you might also like Mumford & Sons and Big Gigantic. It just isn’t enough to “like” an artist anymore.
I truly respect and admire what Kanye West and Jay-Z do. You might not like what they do personally as in the case of Kanye West having a baby with Kim Kardashian or professionally, Jay-Z teaming up with Samsung, but you need to respect they are constantly in our cultural dialogue.
If you look at the Billboard 200 year-end chart in 2004, Jay-Z’s The Black Album and Kanye West’s The College Dropout clocked in at eleven and twelve respective. There was only one album in the top 10, Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below. The other album in the top 20? G-Unit’s Beg for Mercy. Jay-Z and Kanye West have staying power. I might “like” hip-hop artists Joey Bada$$ or Danny Brown, but there is no way I’m buying their albums at this point. I would only by them if I had memories throughout my life of hearing their music at the beach, during the winter, at parties or at work.
5. Both albums are just completely badass.